Parents: #TakeControl of Your Kids’ Video Games This Holiday Season

By Patricia Vance, president, Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) November 21, 2018

The holidays are almost here and chances are, your kids will be asking for one or more of the year’s hottest video games. Before you take the leap and buy games on their wish list, check the ESRB game ratings (E for Everyone, T for Teen, M for Mature). Next, set parental controls for all devices to manage what they play, for how long, and with whom.

ESRB has easy-to-follow, step-by-step Parental Control Guides at that help you manage which games your kids can access based on their ESRB age rating, while limiting screen time and setting spending limits for in-game purchases.

As we approach the holiday season, here are a few tips on how to #TakeControl and create positive “house rules” for different age groups:


Preschoolers often play games on their parents’ devices. That makes it a bit easier to manage. Yet, it’s still a good idea to set parental controls that only allow age-appropriate games. 

While you’re at it, block in-game purchases to avoid the unwelcome surprise of additional expenses charged to your account while your child is innocently tapping away.

Elementary Through Middle School

This is the age where gaming can get a bit tricky. A game that one parent might approve for their 10-year-old may be off-limits for yours, or vice-versa. This is also the age where kids like to play games with friends, such as Fortnite and Minecraft. Parental controls give you an easy way to restrict chat features or approve friends.

In-game purchases can still be a pitfall at this age, so either disable or set an “allowance” for in-game purchases. Screen time may become a concern as your kids enter middle school. You can #TakeControl and set daily time limits on most devices and consoles so as not to conflict with homework or other activities.


Many teens want to play M (Mature)-rated games. Some of them may be perfectly fine by you, while others are no-go. Dig deeper into the ratings, which include content descriptors like suggestive themes, language or violence to help guide your decision. For boxed video games, be sure to read the game’s rating summary on or the ESRB mobile app which provides even greater insight and detail.

Online Play

Be sure to check if your tween or teenage kids are playing games online. If so, talk to them about being civil and teach them to never give out any personal information to strangers. Also, if you’re concerned about inappropriate in-game banter, you may want to consider taking away your kid’s headset.

Regardless of your child’s age, there are easy ways to #TakeControl and ensure everyone has a positive video game experience. And remember, there’s no better way to connect with your child over games than by playing with them!

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is the non-profit, self-regulatory body that assigns ratings for video games and apps so parents can make informed choices.